The construction for the Lorraine and Bill Dodero Center for Performing Arts (PAC) started on August 20. Located in the old location of the tennis courts, the new PAC will be for creative activities in speech and debate, music, dance, fine arts, and drama.
The previous Fine Arts Building, across from the Middle School, had structural challenges requiring cost-prohibitive repairs. In 2015, Ms. Kathy Kenny, Head of School, made the decision with her administrative team to close the old building and begin fund raising for a new theater.
Multiple performance areas coming.
The Lorraine and Bill Dodero Center for Performing Arts will have one floor dedicated to theater. There will be a main theater with a standard size stage that will seat three hundred people. Next to the stage, there will be a grand piano for the Music Department. Also, a black box theater will be available for smaller performances. The black box theater is a square room with black walls and will have a multi-purpose floor to accommodate dance classes.
In addition to theatrical interests, students will have practice space for speech, debate, and mock trial. Gilmour Academy will be able to host speech and debate tournaments in the main theater. A small conference hall with classrooms will complete the facility.
Gilmour Academy’s official website states: “In the PAC, theater tech classes, dance classes, lighting and sound, one-act plays, theater director and stage management opportunities as well as summer workshops are all on the horizon. Music ensembles, concerts and competitions will also be part of the repertoire.”
A “Fly” system will be in place.
The PAC will have a unique feature that did not exist in the previous FAB—the Fly system. In theater, a fly system uses ropes, pulleys, and counterweights to enable the theater crews to hoist and fly safely on the stage in order to complete certain scenes such as the performance in the upcoming play, Peter Pan.
Mrs. Gay Janis has been working with students in Speech and Debate as well as in Drama Club. She said, “The Fly System uses separate ropes from the ceiling to safely ‘fly’ our students. It will allow our club to have more dramatic plays and will bring our plays to a next level. The play Peter Pan will be performed around the Fall of 2020, and we will be able to fly three people, the maximum, at the same time during the play.”
In the past years, artwork by students has been displayed in the hallways. The new PAC will provide an art gallery hall to display student art, where more visibility is anticipated.
Students look forward to the PAC.
The current excavation and foundation work is phase one. In order to successfully open the new PAC, the Gilmour community is continuing to raise additional money for maintenance of the building, additional faculty, more elaborate productions, and expanded curricular offerings. According to Ms. Kenny, students can expect the PAC to open in the Fall of 2019.
Katherine Rankin (’20), who is passionate about speech, debate, and drama, is looking forward to using this PAC in her senior year. She said, “This PAC is going to make a difference for the Gilmour students, especially the members of speech and debate, and drama club. The advanced facilities will help us to better perform our talents and let more people see our performances. Personally, I am excited to use the PAC next year as a senior!”